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What it means to be human, a lesson in compassion.

We are Humans, all of us.

Humanity, as defined by Merriam Webster:

A noun; plural: humanities.

  • All human beings collectively; the human race; humankind.
  • The quality or condition of being human; human nature.
  • The quality of being humane; kindness; benevolence.

We aren’t so different.

I’m currently traveling through Asia, right? It’s beautiful, magical, mystical, healing, and very other-worldly. It’s surrounded by a slight air of mystery – simply because it is so radically different.

When you see pictures of “Asia” they often include rice or tea farms, people carrying baskets on their shoulders, and a never-ending horizon of street food vendors and markets.

These photos are exotic. Unknown.  They might evoke a sense of primitivism in viewers from cultures like the US, the UK, and other parts of the world that are heavily technology-oriented and ‘progressive’. It can seem like an ‘old-world’ destination where the people are not as developed.

Primitivism can insinuate: more dangerous or violent, potentially more corrupt, unhealthy, or possibly savage-like. I was culture-freakin-shocked at the attitude toward animals when I arrived in Thailand, and was thinking to myself “How is this not a big deal to you guys?! How can you just ignore that three-legged, starving cat over there who is obviously nursing?!”

These extreme differences in lifestyle and values can make it hard to relate or connect. Looking through the glass, you might not be able to see yourself in the people of that culture.

Today, my friend Bev and I are going to teach you how to recognize yourself in anybody.

When I was traveling to Burning Man on the Cobrabus, I met a wonderful and bright soul named Beverly. Bev is one seriously multi-talented and inspiring gal who loves to give and share. Not only did she share her home on the Cobrabus with us, but in Burning Man spirit, she gifted all the riders an amazing tool.

This tool has improved my quality of life dramatically. It has been a wonderful gift. Today, we’re going to share it with you.

What’s the gift? Is it free?!

Yes, it’s free! Not only that, but you will become [emotionally] richer every time you use it.

You can do it anywhere there are other humans (I’ve also done it on animals, they have feelings too!). Here it is:

Compassion Exercise

Excerpted from a book called, ReSurfacing®: Techniques for Exploring Consciousness by Harry Palmer.

Bev gave us each business sized cards with this exercise printed on it. I began to pull my card out on the playa, buses, trains, restaurants, my office…anywhere I was that was public or anytime I wanted to feel good.

Funny story: I was sitting on the Tram at the LA airport and this kid and his mom keep staring at me. Okay, maybe it’s the dreads? Do I have something on my face? Did someone tape a “fuck you” sign on my back? Eventually, I take a long, hard look instead of trying to get a side-eye squint. Low and behold, the kid is holding a compassion exercise card and was doing it on me! This was just extra reassurance that this tool is one of great value.

Since receiving my compassion card, I have found myself being much more understanding of, and patient with, my fellow humans. There is a lot less anger in my life! I used to see parents on the CTA who were being a little rough with their kids, and I would think “What a horrible parent!”.

With the compassion exercise, I managed to take off my judging pants. Now I think “Just like me, this person is …”. It brings me a lot of peace. While traveling, I’ve struggled with the ignorance and behavior of other travelers, and by showing some compassion, I’m managing to handle it much better.

What made me want to write a post about this?

Other than the fact that it’s a wonderful exercise that has literally no negative side effects? Alright, here we go, the kicker: I’ve encountered an almost unbelievable amount of ignorance regarding Asian people. 

To be blunt: just because they aren’t white doesn’t mean they’re savages.

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